Bumpass teen found, man faces abduction charge

Fourteen-year-old Isabel Hicks is back home with her family and Bruce Lynch, 33, will make his first court appearance on an abduction charge on Nov. 1 in Louisa Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Hicks and Lynch were stopped in Caroline County late in the evening on Oct. 30 after a pursuit, according to the Louisa County Sheriff's Office. Hicks, of Bumpass, and Lynch, of Montpelier, had been missing since Oct. 21. 

At a brief press conference, Louisa County Sheriff's Office Major Donald Lowe thanked the public for helping to track down Hicks and Lynch. He said a tip called in by a citizen alerted authorities of their whereabouts.

The breakthrough followed a day of searching on Oct. 29 in western Hanover County through thick woods and cow pastures. 

The search for the missing Bumpass girl intensified when an earlier call from a citizen prompted police to descend on the 14000 block of Clazemont Road in Montpelier, where Hicks and Lynch had been sighted.

A second report of a sighting immediately followed on nearby Bethany Church Road (not to be confused with Bethany Church Road in Bumpass). 

Police held their fifth press conference about the case on Oct. 29 in the parking lot of the Montpelier Food Lion. Lowe directed some of his words toward Lynch.

“Bruce, if you’re listening to this, just do the right thing,” Lowe said. “You can drop her off at any sheriff’s department.”

Hicks' brother, Blake Saylor, said on Oct. 21 that she went to bed around 8 p.m. the night before. When family members went to wake her in the morning, there were pillows under her blankets in the shape of a person.

The sheriff’s office said Lynch had previously been in a relationship with Hicks’ mother. Officials added that Lynch was armed with a 9mm handgun and had been reported by his friends and family to possibly have considered suicide. 

Speculation about the details of Hicks’ and Lynch’s disappearance led the sheriff’s office to call a press conference earlier in the week to address some of the comments that were being made on social media about the case. 

Det. Chuck Love, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said that what was relevant was bringing Hicks home safely.

Much of the speculation about the case centers around whether or not Hicks left her home voluntarily or by force. Love said on Oct. 30 that Lynch "did not display aggression" when he allegedly abducted Hicks.

“We don’t have any evidence that she was taken against her will at this time, but she’s a young, 14-year-old girl who hasn’t seen her family in over a week,” Lowe said.

Sgt. Steve DiLoreto, spokesman for Hanover County Sheriff’s Department, said that at about 9:00 p.m. on Monday evening, Hicks and Lynch were spotted on Clazemont Road, where Lynch’s mother lives. Lynch appeared to have shaven his beard to alter his appearance, and both were wearing dark, camouflaged clothes. 

DiLoreto said that Hanover deputies arrived on the scene in about five minutes and set up a perimeter. A search was conducted, but to no avail. A more thorough search was delayed until dawn, when deputies from Louisa, Hanover and Henrico, as well as the FBI and state police, conducted a slow, methodical search of the perimeter. 

As of Wednesday morning, the search in Montpelier continued, as law enforcement continued searching every crack and crevice of the thick woods in the area. Among the assets that law enforcement had available to them were man-tracking dogs such as a bloodhound, which uses scent to find subjects, and man-trailing dogs, typically Shepherds, who use physical signs on the ground’s surface. Several aerial units, including helicopters and planes, have been seen flying around the area, doing sweeps with infrared and thermal imaging.

Meanwhile, a number of motorists in Louisa and surrounding areas were pulled over for traffic stops because they operated vehicles similar to the 2003 Toyota Matrix Lynch was believed to be driving.

Lynch is being held at Central Virginia Regional Jail in Orange. He was scheduled to appear in court via a video link on Nov. 1.